Issue of September 27, 2015

Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
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Let The Gentle IPS Move Forward

Every Tuesday, Teddy Quintos takes his seat as ex-officio member of the La Trinidad municipal council representing the league of barangays.

Directly across him sits the elder Marcelo Abela who is addressed as the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative in pursuance of Republic Act 8371 that mandates the participation of indigenous communities in decision-making.

Both are Ibalois. Yet both are not exactly in the best of terms. No eye contact either.

For its part, the municipal council has not made up its mind on whether or not it was all right to source funds as compensation for Abela in view of a petition by the La Trinidad Indigenous Peoples Organization (with Quintos as signatory) that questioned Abela’s legitimacy. Result: Abela as IPMR has not received a single centavo as pay for the more than 10 months he has been in office.

Abela reported for office on the strength of an affirmation handed out by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

The LTIPO that he used to head is now petitioning the NCIP to revoke the affirmation, citing non-observance of selection guidelines among other things.

The LTIPO asserted that Abela’s selection as IPMR violated local guidelines, a claim backed by an NCIP report.

DILG’s John Castañeda believed the matter can be acted upon by the NCIP based on the doctrine of administrative remedies. He indicated it is the IPs themselves who were questioning the IPMR’s legitimacy on the ground that local guidelines were ditched in paving the way for his selection.

The NCIP in fact could have resolved the issue without need to wash its dirty linen in public.

Somewhere in its national guidelines, it stressed the primacy of customary laws and practices in the selection of IPMRs and in the resolution of disputes arising from the selection process. The law is there for all to see.

It is not for one man in a barnacle-like bid to cling to one’s post to see it his way. 

The indigenous peoples of La Trinidad have the right to development and the right to move forward. Let their gentle and supreme voice be heard.



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